Pope Francis pride prompts party on streets of Buenos Aires

(CBS News) BUENOS AIRES -- The first pope from the Americas has worked with the poor and the sick from his earliest days.

In Pope Francis' hometown, pride was on full display yesterday.

People party on the streets of Buenos Aires after Jorge Bergoglio was named the new pope, March 13, 2013.
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The party on the streets of Buenos Aires started as soon as the new pope's name was announced.

Argentina's 31 million Catholics celebrated a moment they never thought they'd see. Father Jose Andres was among them.

"I'm very emotional," he said. "It's really amazing the surprise that God has given us and the Latin people, a new pope who is one of us."

There was also pride in Villa 21, an impoverished neighborhood in an industrial area of the city.

Father Jose Andres said God had given the Latin people a "surprise".
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Julio Soria and his wife, Isabel Iglesias, are among the 30,000 people who live here.

"We are so proud that an Argentine pope came to this neighborhood," she said.

The couple helped build a Catholic chapel here and say then-cardinal Bergoglio was a frequent visitor to their modest church.

Julio told CBS News, "It makes me very, very happy. Last night, I couldn't get to sleep at all because of the news. Knowing that, filled me with pride."

Julio Soria and wife Isabel Iglesias said the new pope was a frequent visitor to their chapel in Villa 21, Buenos Aires.
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Bergoglio was also known for outreach to drug addicts and HIV patients, even kissing their feet.

Yet he's been sharply criticized by gay rights activists for his staunch opposition to same-sex marriage in Argentina.

His selection as pope has also renewed questions about whether he and other Catholic leaders should have done more to oppose Argentina's military dictatorship in the 1970s ... believed to be responsible for torture, murder and kidnappings.

The pope told his biographer that he secretly worked against the dictatorship.

Yet in Villa 21, the view of Pope Francis remains simple; of a humble man, who served the poor.

"If I would see him now," Isabel told CBS News, "I would go and kneel in front of him, I would kiss his hands."

This is a very significant area for the Roman Catholic Church. In Argentina, three out of four people are Roman Catholic. It is the 11th largest population of Roman Catholics.

As a whole, Latin America is a very important region. Nearly 40 percent of Roman Catholics worldwide live in Latin America.

The largest Catholic country in the world is Brazil, with 123 million Catholics.

  • Elaine Quijano

    Elaine Quijano was named a CBS News correspondent in January 2010. Quijano reports for "CBS This Morning" and the "CBS Evening News," and contributes across all CBS News platforms. She is based in New York.